REVIEW: Renegade – GCI Wooden Coaster at Valleyfair – July 2019

My 100th Roller Coaster

My recent trip to Valleyfair a special one, as it marked the day I would hit my 100th roller coaster. The park only had 7 roller coasters, so it was pretty easy to determine which one I wanted to be my 100. It would be Renegade, the park’s GCI wooden coaster that opened in 2007. Many coaster enthusiasts that have ridden Renegade have often praised it as being one of the best GCI woodies ever built, so I was definitely excited to see what it had to offer. I was also interested in seeing how it compared to Mystic Timbers, my current favorite GCI.

A Fantastic Beginning

After walking through Renegade’s slightly western themed queue and station, we boarded the back row for our first ride. We lurched out of the station in a less than half full train and began to climb the lift hill. When we made it to the top we received some serious pull going over the drop. That was fun and all, but the actual design of the drop is the thing worth talking about. As you descend, the train banks right, but as you make it to the bottom it banks left. It is one of the weirdest sensations on a roller coaster, and probably my second favorite first drop after Goliath at Great America.

Excellent Pacing for 3/4ths of the Ride

Once you make it through the drop, Renegade becomes a disorienting jumble of banked turns (I mean that in the best way possible). The ride feels incredibly fast for a majority of its length, even though it only reaches a top speed of 51 mph. Surprisingly, there wasn’t as much airtime as I was expecting. This was probably because of the seatbelt/lapbar restraint combination. There were definitely some decent pops here and there, but I would’ve liked there to be a bit more. I wouldn’t say it ruins the ride at all though, as it seemed to me that Renegade’s main purpose was to be a relentless in its speed and turns. If anything keeps the coaster from reaching its true potential, its that it begins to slow down about 3/4ths of the way through. I’d say its a couple turns before the station fly-bye. It isn’t that noticeable on the first ride, but after riding it multiple times the change in pacing became more obvious. This doesn’t ruin the ride either, as the station fly-bye and final airtime hills before the break run are still an action packed finale, but I just wish it was a bit more intense towards the end.

The Verdict

Is Renegade the best coaster at Valleyfair? Yes. Is it a fantastic roller coaster and a hidden gem that more enthusiasts need to ride? Yes. Is it the best GCI wooden coaster I’ve ridden? Probably not. Although Renegade does feel a bit longer than Mystic Timbers, it doesn’t quite have the airtime and impeccabel pacing of the latter. That said, the twisted drop and station fly-bye make it a far more unique coaster than Mystic Timbers. It might not be the best, but Renegade is definitely a top-tier woodie that is very under appreciated. If you’re ever in the Minneapolis area, visiting Valleyfair is a must for this ride alone.

Coaster Grade: 8.5/10

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